New legislation aimed at reducing plastic waste from California’s cannabis industry was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 8. The new law was sponsored by CannaCraft, a Northern California-based cannabis business and state Senator Ben Allen. It was written to eliminate the state requirement for cannabis producers to apply a single-use plastic tag to each individual cannabis plant.
“Beyond environmental and financial impacts for our local governments, plastic products have become a public health hazard such that we are finding microplastics in bloodstreams,” Allen said in a press release. “We should act responsibly to curb the unnecessary use of plastics where possible. As the cannabis industry continues to develop in California, it is critical that we support sustainability as a pillar of its growth. SB 622 aims to do just that, and I thank Governor Newsom for signing this common-sense measure.”
The law will allow the Department of Cannabis Control to regulate how plants are tracked while also leaving room for plastic alternatives such as digital tags and centralized lists of identifiers to locate plants.
Tiffany Devitt, the head of regulatory affairs for CannaCraft and cannabis retail chain March and Ash, published an op-ed on the educational nonprofit website Project CBD titled “Bag the Tags! California’s Eco-Absurdity,” highlighting the wasteful requirements in June 2022. In the editorial, Devitt argued the state could still meet its tracking requirements by using digital tags while eliminating thousands of pounds of harmful plastic waste annually.
“Over the past five years, the state has used between 200 and 250 million plant tags generating over 1 million pounds of plastic waste,” Devitt said. “The state of California spends about $15 million per year buying these tags and providing them to cannabis farms. The biggest tragedy here is that those tags did nothing to prevent diversion, which was the stated intent.”